March 24 every year is set aside in the commemoration of World Tuberculosis Day. The aim is to create awareness about the signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis as well as the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB. March 24 is the day to pool together efforts globally to put an end to tuberculosis (TB) which still remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer.
About 2 billion people are infected with the bacteria that causes TB worldwide, although they are inactive in about 90% of this population and so do not show symptoms of the infection. However, if the immune system becomes compromised, as in the case of HIV or old age, this latent infection may become active. TB mainly affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis) however, it can spread to other tissues in the body.
How does Tuberculosis (TB) spread?
Tuberculosis is mostly transmitted via inhalation just like an aerosol spray. After inhalation, the body’s immune system kicks in to fight the invading bacteria. However, in cases where the body cannot
properly defend itself against the multiplying bacteria, it spreads rapidly from the lungs to other tissues in the body. Some of which include the kidneys, meninges of the brain, adrenal glands etc. and may cause severe complications if left untreated.
What are the risk factors of Tuberculosis?
Factors that increase the risk of the disease may include:
- Weakened immune system resulting from diseases like HIV/AIDS, diabetes, severe kidney disease or medications used in treating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease etc
- Substance abuse
- Poverty and poor access to medical care
- Place of residence
- Nature of work (Health care workers are at risk)
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Tuberculosis?
The signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis may include one or more of the following. If you notice a combination of these symptoms, present yourself to the nearest TB centre for screening and early detection:
- Night sweats
- Persistent Cough (that lasts 3 or more weeks)
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Chest pain
Treatment of Tuberculosis.
If after screening, you test positive to the active tuberculosis, you will be placed on some medications for couple of weeks after which you may no longer show the signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis and may no longer be contagious to others.
How do I prevent the spread of Tuberculosis?
- COMPLETE YOUR MEDICATIONS AS PRESCRIBED.
- Stay indoors, sleep alone. This will reduce the
number of people you come in contact with
- Make sure your room is well ventilated
- Cover your mouth when coughing, laughing or sneezing
with a disposable tissue paper which you should also seal in a bag and properly
- Wear a mask if you have to be in a public place.
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